10. They tell me the video board at Charlotte Motor Speedway is bigger than JumboJerry at Cowboys Stadium. Doesn’t look it. I’m sure it’s because it’s outside in a 160,000-seat venue. But, still, just doesn’t look that big.
9. NASCAR fans are already irked by Jimmie Johnson. The titles. The fact he had the audacity to be born in California. The cheating amongst his crew. But now this. He walks away with $1 million despite deliberately not competing for 60 of Saturday night’s 90 laps.
8. The $1 million winner-take-all format was supposed to prompt all-out, aggressive driving. But this is the part of NASCAR that loses me every time. If a driver’s car simply isn’t as fast the guy ahead of him, there’s nothing he can do to be competitive. Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski mashed their accelerators to the floor, but Jimmie Johnson was simply faster. End of competition. Strategy plays no part of it, unlike football or basketball where defensive schemes or game plans can make up for a gap in talent.
7. Thanks to the folks at Texas Motor Speedway for – as always – doing things first class. From the transportation to the hotel to the meals and scanners and even the detailed tour of the infield, TMS does it right. And, after the race, one call from TMS forced North Carolina State Troopers to remove a barricade so our vehicle could avoid an hour-long traffic snarl. That, my friends, is power.
6. Toured Hendrick Motorsports Friday morning. Looks like a college campus. Most impressive part was the machine shop and garage. Floors were spick-and-span clean enough to eat off of. No wonder Jimmie Johnson is so dang good.
5. My solution to NASCAR’s All-Star Race dilemma: Winners of the four 20-lap races only get to start at the front of the 10-lap finale if they don’t finish last in any other of the three 20-lap races. Simple. There have been eight changes to the format since ’85. Needs to be a ninth. Sorry, but with Johnson winning early, then staying clear of trouble and then winning again late, the All-Star race is barely better than football or basketball’s exhibitions.
4. If I’m NASCAR, I rig a race to let Dale Earnhardt, Jr. win. Amazing how popular he is. I’d say 70 percent of fans Saturday were pulling for him. If you’re a restaurant owner and 70 percent of your customers are clamoring for ribs, you’d better eventually serve ribs. Right?
3. Spent Saturday night drinking in the hotel bar until 3 a.m. with Austin Petty, grandson of NASCAR king Richard Petty. Turns out he had just become engaged. Nothing like Patron shots, a bottle of wine and some Karaoke to christen a relationship … and a Sunday hangover.
2. Only in NASCAR do you find Million-dollar motorcoaches parked 10 feet from $10,000 campers, and the inhabitants of each sharing stories and beers. The mingling of classes is refreshing.
1. Of all the things I can be labeled in this life, “Sandbagger” is one I’d readily welcome. It’s not cheating. And it is, after all, a brand for winners.
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